Wolves return plenty of veteran leaders

If a baseball team with just four seniors and one ace pitcher could make it to the state tournament last year, South Kitsap High School baseball coach Elton Goodwin — entering is 27th season — is anxious to see what’s in store this season.

Featuring 12 seniors and a plethora of pitchers, Goodwin is optimistic his squad can make it further in the postseason.

The Wolves open the season at home Saturday against Auburn at 12:30 p.m.

SK won’t enter the game without a setback, though.

Six baseball players are currently on the boys basketball team, which is finishing up the season at the state tournament.

“We’re looking OK for a team without four starters,” Goodwin said. “It’s a scary setback because they have to get into shape without hurting their arms.”

Missing on the baseball team are pitchers Brian Cox, Boya Quichocho, and Josh Meeker, and outfielder Tyler Mayfield — the Narrows League Bridge Division MVP last year.

Juniors Joe Riley and Ryan Marshall, also members of the basketball team, are possible varsity players, too.

The good news is they will only need five practices instead of the usual 10 practices because the winter season has carried over into the spring season.

Still, those players will not be available for the team’s first two or three games.

Goodwin he has higher expectations with this group, especially after the experience gained last year.

“We went 17-7 last year and we were a young squad,” he said. “We gained a lot of experience and we bring back seven starters. Coming back, you expect to be better.”

The Wolves bring back Bridge Division first team selections Travis Vetters, Dan Knox and Brandon Nickerson, and second-team selection Josh Showers.

Knox became the ace of the staff last year and ended last year on a high note with a win against Capital at regionals.

In the first round of the state playoffs, Knox held No. 5 ranked Shorewood to four hits through seven innings.

Though SK lost the game 2-1, Goodwin said the post-season experience should prove invaluable this year.

After Knox, the pitching rotation will consist of Vetters, Cox, Quichocho and junior Eric Deisler.

After being void of depth in pitching, Goodwin said this year’s team is loaded with arms.

Meeker, Nickerson, Showers and Siler should also see some time on the mound.

Marshall and Riley may or may not add to the mix. It’s just a matter of seeing them throw, Goodwin said.

SK returns the same infield from a year ago.

When Vetters isn’t pitching he’ll be a fixture at third base.

Showers will return at shortstop, with Nickerson at second base and Meeker at first base.

Siler will start the season at first base and play there when Meeker pitches.

Junior Cody McCulley will anchor centerfield until Mayfield returns.

Other players vying for outfield spots are Jeff and Joel Goodwin and Phil Thomas.

The catching duties will be shared between a pair of juniors.

Rick Wilkle and Andy Sund will share duties, and senior Jesse Orton will also be in the mix.

Goodwin said this is the first season he can remember that all practices have been outdoors.

From seeing the ball carry to just getting air in the lungs, Goodwin said being on the diamond makes his players better.

“The weather has been awesome,” Goodwin said. “You get a lot better when you’re in the environment.”

Goodwin said his team will be pushed in the Bridge Division by Port Angeles and possibly Gig Harbor.

The best part of the schedule may come prior to the regular season.

Goodwin packed the schedule with tough non-division opponents.

Included on the schedule is Federal Way, which knocked SK into a loser-out game at regionals last year; Auburn, Bellarmine, Olympia, and Skyview of Vancouver.

“We wanted to do that,” Goodwin said. “We’re always scared that we won’t get to play the games (because of rainouts). You can’t fit those in (once the regular season starts). You know it’s going to rain.”

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